13 August 2017 Bible Reading
Artaxerxes I (the name meaning “whose rule is through truth”) was the fifth King of Persia from 465 BC to 424 BC. He was the third son of Xerxes I.
Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra by means of a letter of decree to take charge of the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of the Jewish nation. A copy of this decree is found in Ezra 7:13-28. Ezra left Babylon in the first month of the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign, at the head of a company of Jews that included priests and Levites. They arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month of the seventh year.
The rebuilding of the Jewish community in Jerusalem had begun under Cyrus the Great, who had permitted Jews held captive in Babylon to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of Solomon. Consequently, a number of Jews returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C., and the foundation of this “Second Temple” was laid in 520 BC.
In Artaxerxes’ 20th year (445 BC), Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer, apparently was also a friend of the king as in that year Artaxerxes inquired after Nehemiah’s sadness. Nehemiah related to him the plight of the Jewish people and that the city of Jerusalem was undefended. The king sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem with letters of safe passage to the governors in Trans-Euphrates, and to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, to make beams for the citadel by the Temple and to rebuild the city walls.
14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor. 15 But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people, and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people: but I didn’t do so, because of the fear of God. 16 Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered there to the work. 17 Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, one hundred fifty men, besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this I didn’t demand the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy on this people. 19 Remember to me, my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.
6 Now when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah, and to Geshem the Arabian, and to the rest of our enemies, that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though even to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates;) 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together in the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to harm me. 3 I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I can’t come down. Why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?” 4 They sent to me four times after this sort; and I answered them the same way. 5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me the same way the fifth time with an open letter in his hand, 6 in which was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel. Because of that, you are building the wall. You would be their king, according to these words. 7 You have also appointed prophets to preach of you at Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now it will be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.”
8 Then I sent to him, saying, “There are no such things done as you say, but you imagine them out of your own heart.” 9 For they all would have made us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened from the work, that it not be done.” But now, strengthen my hands.
10 I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home; and he said, “Let us meet together in God’s house, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple; for they will come to kill you; yes, in the night will they come to kill you.”
11 I said, “Should such a man as I flee? Who is there that, being such as I, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.” 12 I discerned, and behold, God had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He hired so that I would be afraid, do so, and sin, and that they might have material for an evil report, that they might reproach me. 14 “Remember, my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and also the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.”
15 So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard of it, all the nations that were around us were afraid, and were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was worked of our God. 17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For there were many in Judah sworn to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.
7 Now when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed, 2 I put my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the governor of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem; for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many. 3 I said to them, “Don’t let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut the doors, and you bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, everyone in his watch, with everyone near his house.”
4 Now the city was wide and large; but the people were few therein, and the houses were not built. 5 My God put into my heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be listed by genealogy. I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written therein: 6 These are the children of the province, who went up out of the captivity of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, everyone to his city; 7 who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: 8 The children of Parosh, two thousand one hundred seventy-two. 9 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy-two. 10 The children of Arah, six hundred fifty-two. 11 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred eighteen. 12 The children of Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. 13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty-five. 14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred sixty. 15 The children of Binnui, six hundred forty-eight. 16 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty-eight. 17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty-two. 18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty-seven. 19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand sixty-seven. 20 The children of Adin, six hundred fifty-five. 21 The children of Ater, of Hezekiah, ninety-eight. 22 The children of Hashum, three hundred Twenty-eight. 23 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty-four. 24 The children of Hariph, one hundred twelve. 25 The children of Gibeon, ninety-five. 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred eighty-eight. 27 The men of Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight. 28 The men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two. 29 The men of Kiriath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-three. 30 The men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty-one. 31 The men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two. 32 The men of Bethel and Ai, a hundred twenty-three. 33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty-two. 34 The children of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. 35 The children of Harim, three hundred twenty. 36 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty-five. 37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty-one. 38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred thirty. 39 The priests: The children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy-three. 40 The children of Immer, one thousand fifty-two. 41 The children of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred forty-seven. 42 The children of Harim, one thousand seventeen. 43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, of the children of Hodevah, seventy-four. 44 The singers: the children of Asaph, one hundred forty-eight. 45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, one hundred thirty-eight. 46 The Nethinim: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 47 the children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon, 48 the children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Salmai, 49 the children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, 50 the children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, 51 the children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Paseah. 52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephushesim, 53 the children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 54 the children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 55 the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Temah, 56 the children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha. 57 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida, 58 the children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, 59 the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth Hazzebaim, the children of Amon. 60 All the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred ninety-two.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
8 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him. 7 However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. 9 But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol’s temple, won’t his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forever more, that I don’t cause my brother to stumble.
33 Rejoice in Yahweh, you righteous!
Praise is fitting for the upright.
2 Give thanks to Yahweh with the lyre.
Sing praises to him with the harp of ten strings.
3 Sing to him a new song.
Play skillfully with a shout of joy!
4 For Yahweh’s word is right.
All his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice.
The earth is full of the loving kindness of Yahweh.
6 By Yahweh’s word, the heavens were made;
all their army by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap.
He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear Yahweh.
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spoke, and it was done.
He commanded, and it stood firm.
10 Yahweh brings the counsel of the nations to nothing.
He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
11 The counsel of Yahweh stands fast forever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
8 The way of the guilty is devious,
but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
9 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop,
than to share a house with a contentious woman.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.